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By: Nrk, 12345
Sep 30 2010 6:29am
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After last week's tournament, I wasn't ready to switch back to storm.  I wanted to change the previous week's deck up a little bit before the next classic challenge.  The deck had problems casting topdecked leyline of the voids since it didn't run black mana, and I wasn't entirely happy that I'd usually punt the first game against dredge unless they had a terrible start.  I wanted to add underground seas, and since I was adding seas I would have access to a number of new hate cards.

Oath hate:
Diabolic Edict

Dredge Hate:
Yixlid Jailer
Ravenous Trap

I liked Shriekmaw and the Trap but they didn't make the cut.  I settled on the following list for this week.  I chose the edicts because they gave me answers to Iona on blue or white, and they kill Emrakul as well, and I chose the Jailers because they hit dredge hard and I needed a game 1 against dredge, and they also disrupted storm and made it possible for Oath to deck themselves.  Ok fine, that last one is a long shot but it is there.


Blue/White/Black Meta Merfolk

1 Scalding Tarn
2 Daze
4 Underground Sea
4 Tundra
1 Strip Mine
4 Wasteland
4 Mutavault
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Polluted Delta
1 Flooded Strand
2 Snow-Covered Island

4 Cursecatcher
4 Silvergill Adept
4 Lord of Atlantis
4 Yixlid Jailer
4 Merrow Reejerey

2 Swords to Plowshares
1 Oblivion Ring
4 Leyline of Sanctity
4 Force of Will
4 Aether Vial

3 Tormod's Crypt
4 Gilded Drake
4 Leyline of the Void
2 Meddling Mage
2 Diabolic Edict

Chain of Vapor
Round 1:
I look up my opponent's deck and find out that last week they played a counterbalance deck.  That's not great since I haven't planned for that deck specifically.  I keep a somewhat aggressive hand with 2 Yixlid Jailer, a (Merrow Reejery), 3 lands and a Leyline of Sanctity.  It's not a great hand against counterbalance, but it has some critters and the mana for them.  If they're not playing counterbalance, then this hand can disrupt dredge, storm and oath so keeping seems reasonable.

My opponent leads with swamp, a card that wasn't even in their counterbalance deck last week, and I immediately suspect that I am facing Storm, and I am happy I have the leyline.  My opponent resolves a Dark Confidant since I have no countermagic in hand, and begins to get some card advantage.  I manage to stick some merfolk and 2 Yixlid Jailer and I'm feeling good.  My opponent Chain of Vapors my leyline, then duresses it out of my hand.  I am holding a second one, but I only have 3 land.  The next turn they cabal therapy the second leyline from my hand.  I bring their life down to within one alpha strike of victory, but by then the Dark Confidant had done its work and they had enough cards in hand to storm out without using their graveyard.  Not a good way to start the tourney.

In: 3 Tormod's Crypt, 4 Leyline of the Void, 2 Meddling Mage
Out: 2 Swords to Plowshares, 1 Oblivion Ring, 4 Aether Vial, 2 (Merrow Reejery)

Game 2 I open with both Leyline of the Void and Leyline of Sanctity and run out a mutavault while holding Force of Will and a Silvergill Adept.  I draw and play a turn 2 Yixlid Jailer and am figuring this game to be about over when my opponent plays two Dark Confidant.  I opt not to counter them because I want to hold the Force of Will for their tutor spell.

Since they are at 10 life already, they choose to trade a Bob with a Mutavault twice.  I see why when the next turn they try to Massacre my troops.  I am glad I saved the Force of Will, and use it to keep the pressure on.  My opponent manages to Massacre anyway, and hands on behind a Wispmare for several turns before I was able to get a critical mass of creatures.

Game 3 I start with the better leyline against storm, Leyline of Sanctity, as well as some Mutavaults and a Tormod's Crypt.  I draw another crypt and play it as insurance.  Demonic Consultation removes half their deck and the next turn they run out a Bob again.  Massacre off the top with Bob and my Cursecatcher bring my opponent down to 15 and even though I am holding Meddling Mage, I am happy that I do not have a Tundra to play it with because my opponent only has 3 mana and can't cast the Massacre.  I have to blow the first crypt in response to a Yawgmoth's will, and then use the second on the next turn to remove threshold from a Cabal Ritual to prevent them from chaining effectively.  Wasteland keeps them off Massacre mana and the game is basically over.

Grim Lavamancer
Round 2:
This round I face a clannie (Go Classic Quarter Clan!) and even though he religiously runs Merfolk himself, this week he has concocted a beautiful black/white/red metadeck using the same leylines I am, hand disruption like Duress and Thoughtseize, Dark Confidant, Yixlid Jailer, and Grim Lavamancer, which he proceeds to quickly wreck me with in both games.  I don't have any great sideboard options and this round ends with me losing all my merfolk to boards full of Bobs and Lavamancers.  I try to play my lords out in such a way that I can trick out another lord  using Aether Vial in response to the lavamancer activation, but my opponent is a veteran player of the fish and doesn't fall into the trap.  I lose this round and will have to work hard now to top 8.

My sideboarding for this was uncertain.  I brought in removal and took out leylines.

Spark ElementalGoblin GuideHellspark Elemental
Round 3:
My opponent this round always runs dredge and so I hope for an ok game one with Jailer, and then to win games 2 and 3 with my sideboard.  I look at my opening hand and before I choose to mull, I scout my opponent's last round and to my surprise he is running Red Deck Wins!  My opener has some Adepts to get the ball rolling and my Leyline of Sanctity looks a lot better now that I know what they are playing.  Some of his hasty critters get through while I am setting up but he concedes once I get a board presence because he can't nuke me.

In: 2 Diabolic Edict, 2 Meddling Mage
Out: 4 Wasteland (it was a mono-red mountain based deck)

Game 2 I don't open with a leyline but I have a good aggressive hand and I think that a good hand with creatures can win this matchup.  I am able to lock out the Unearth on his (Hellspark Elementals) with a Jailer and the game is a long slog where I eventually pull it out before he can burn me to death.

Round 4:
I'm happy I won, because that means I can still top8, but I have to win this round to stay in it.  My opponent this round is another dredge veteran who really is running dredge!  I keep a dubious opener with a Leyline of Sanctity, a Yixlid Jailer, an Aether Vial, a Lord of Atlantis, a Silvergill Adept, and two Wasteland as the only mana.  I figured I could use the vial to get the jailer into play, wasteland any bazaars, and I'd be in good shape for game 1.  Well all that was great in theory until my opponent blew up my vial on turn 2 with Nature's Claim.  I proceeded to draw only wastelands until turn 5, at which point I topdecked an Underground Sea and stuck the Jailer, which was pretty much game over since my opponent wasn't expecting creature-based hate.  I was happy to come back from losing the vial, and was lucky that they had a slow start to complement mine.

In: 4x Leyline of the Void, 2x Meddling Mage, 3x Tormod's Crypt
Out: 4x Leyline of Sanctity, 2x Daze, 2x Swords to Plowshares, 1x Oblivion Ring

Game 2 they apparently sided in Firestorm to nuke any jailers that appeared, but between Tormod's Crypt and a nice curve out of merfolk, I put enough pressure on that he chose to dump the firestorm out early.  I stuck a jailer after the firestorm and that was it.

Leyline of Sanctity
Round 5:
This round is against another clannie playing Oath, and I have to play it out and win if I want to get into the top 8, because my tiebreakers might not be good enough for a 3-2 record to cut to top8 unless my opponents all win this round.  I mulligan to 5, finally grudgingly keeping a hand with Wasteland, Cursecatcher, Oblivion Ring, and 2x Force of Will.  It's not a great hand but I really need to stop Oath from sticking badly and Force of Will is the best card for that.  Turn 1 topdeck a 3rd Force of Will and I burn the wasteland to keep my opponent off two mana next turn.  I now have 4 blue cards in hand, 3 of which are FoW so I think I can win a counter war.  After using the wasteland, I regretfully do not draw any land until turn 7, which is a Mutavault that allows me to cast an Aether Vial that I drew into while trying to find land.  The vial was the backup plan and when he tries to Daze it I consider burning a FoW to stop him, but I decide to let the vial hit the bin so that I can guarantee that an Oath can't hit the board.  I keep drawing into more blue cards to feed my Force of Wills and even though I have no land to speak of I feel like I am in control of the game as my opponent can't do anything to get through all my counters and keeps playing land and passing.  I finally draw another land and can start trying to stick creatures.  One by one the creatures draw out my opponent's countermagic until finally I start drawing more land.  I drop another creature which makes it through, and on their turn they try to Oath, but it is met with FoW.  I hard cast Leyline of Sanctity and beat face with my critters, still holding a blue card and a FoW.  The game ends shortly after.

In: 4x Gilded Drake, 2x Diabolic Edict, 2x Meddling Mage
Out: 4x (Merrow Reejery), 4x Yixlid Jailer

Game 2 I mull to 6, open with a Leyline of Sanctity, 2 FoWs and some land, but my opponent and I both have a slow start.  Unfortunately he gets strip mine/Life from the Loam going and I begin starting to wonder if I can actually kill him.  Their Forbidden Orchard doesn't give me tokens because of the leyline, and I can't cast anything without land unless I can draw a vial and another land and keep the vial alive.  I let them resolve an Oath since I have Leyline in play, and the game continues for a while until they get a Nature's Claim, at which point my opponent Oathed up an Inkwell Leviathan.  I was holding Diabolic Edict but didn't have black mana.  I got the mana, but the edict got Spell Pierced and that was game 2.

Game 3 I keep a fair hand with 2 Fow 2 vial a Gilded Drake and some land.  I am given a spirit token and run out a cursecatcher, then a meddling mage, naming Oath.  Force of will gets the mage into play and I begin beating my opponent into submission.  They can't recover and I win my 4th match, ensuring that I make the top 8.  Luckily for us my clannie had great tiebreakers going into the match and even though they lost, all their opponents had won that round so they were a lock for the top 8 as well.  The other clan member that I had played earlier had also made top 8, so all 3 Classic Quarter Clan members that had joined the tournament to play actually made it into the top 8!  Thanks by the way to those of you who joined just to get the event started.

Top 8
Nature's Claim
Round 6:
This opponent happens to be playing dredge, and I keep a bad starting hand with double leyline, FoW, a merfolk, some land, and a vial.  It's an ok hand and I am not sure it is wise to try to mull for jailers and risk a no lander.  Unfortunately my opponent gets a great start with their bazaar and they overwhelm me with zombies on turn 3.

In: 4x Leyline of the Void, 2x Meddling Mage, 3x Tormod's Crypt
Out: 4x Leyline of Sanctity, 2x Daze, 2x Swords to Plowshares, 1x Oblivion Ring

Game 2 I mull to 5 and start with a Leyline of the Void, which promptly gets claimed.  I stick a jailer the next turn though, and then a Meddling Mage on Dread Return, and then after a few more merfolk, the game ends.

Game 3 I keep a marginal hand with a Yixlid Jailer that I should have thrown back, and a bad play error sets me back when I neglect to sacrifice my Cursecatcher to counter their flashbacked Cabal Therapy.  Even though they had the mana to pay the Cursecatcher, if I had sacrificed it anyway, the 3 Bridge from Belows in the graveyard would have removed themselves instead of giving my opponent 3 zombie tokens.  They then used the 3 tokens to dread return a Sun Titan.  Too late, I sac'd the Cursecatcher even though they still could pay it, and prevented a horde of zombies from hitting the table, but the titan brought back a Bazaar of Baghdad, and that dredged them into another bridge and brought back 4 bloodghasts.  Another Dread Return brought in Flame-Kin Zealot and my run for the top was over for this week.

Conclusion and thoughts about the Meta:

So this week the deck had some trouble with color consistency due to going to 3 colors, and my mulliganing was not up to par as I think I lost a few games due to bad keeps.  I think if the deck remains 3 colors I need to put a fetch or two back in to help with consistency.  I also didn't play as tightly as I could have as well and made a few bad mistakes.  Well, there is next week, and my Oath playing clannie Asecondiceage went on to win it all, so the Classic Quarter Clan has taken down two Classic Challenges in a row.  The meta is expanding now, thankfully.  It had stagnated for months with Oath/Dredge/Storm dominating and fish fading away, but now the meta includes a return of fish with the ability to thrash the big decks and hold its own against a variety of others, and there are other metadecks appearing which use other shells like the Dark Confidant engine that also prey on Merfolk.  This additional variety in the meta has allowed an opening for further expansion of the list of viable decks, as the existing decks will have to dilute their strength more in order to adjust to the increasing hate being thrown their way, or their pilots will switch to other decks like Zoo or Counterbalance Control, or some new concoction.  Red Deck Wins got 12th, which nets you 3 packs and an afternoon of fun, and a player running a list that looked like a ported to classic version of the Legacy Lands deck got into the top 4, so the meta is definitely widening.  Dredge shows up in the largest numbers, followed by Oath right now.  Go get em folks.

Archetypes that appeared on 09-25-2010:

Dredge: 6

Oath: 4


CounterThopter: 1

Metafish: 1

MetaBob: 1

Legacy Thresh: 1

Legacy Lands: 1

Goblins: 1

Red Deck Wins: 1

Slivers: 1

Reanimator: 1

4 drops out of kindness: Dangerlinto, Spreadingbull, NO_1, and Fiatlux all helped fire the event even though they did not ultimately play.  Thanks folks.


Oath / Legacy Lands / Metafish / MetaBob / Dredge / Dredge / CounterThopter / Legacy Thresh

Join us next week and you might just see some of these:
(pic=Urza's Saga)
(pic=Urza's Legacy)


Join us next week and you by Westane at Thu, 09/30/2010 - 11:44
Westane's picture

Join us next week and you might just see some of these:
(pic=Urza's Saga)
(pic=Urza's Legacy)

Good article and all, but that's kinda why I quit playing Classic for now. Oh boy, I have a shot at winning some iffy packs that might cover about half of my entry fee... Another shining example of WotC giving the finger to the MTGO community... /rant

It's not as bad as it by Nrk at Thu, 09/30/2010 - 12:45
Nrk's picture

It's not as bad as it seems... I agree that the payout could be better, but you can sell UZ for 3.5 and UL for 2.8 to 3 tix, so even if you get 9-16th and only get 1 UZ and 2 UL, you still can bot them for about 9 tix easily, which more than covers the 6 tix entry fee - and you got the fun of playing and the MOPR points. Draft sets of UZUZUL sell for 10 tix, so you generally come out ahead. Not far ahead, but ahead.

I think the thing is that by Paul Leicht at Thu, 09/30/2010 - 12:59
Paul Leicht's picture

I think the thing is that people want an easy ride. +3 tix for a top 16 doesn't cut it I guess. Not after you spent $$$ to build your top 16 deck anyway.

It's not that I want an easy by Westane at Thu, 09/30/2010 - 13:10
Westane's picture

It's not that I want an easy ride, but it'd sure be nice to have some better format support beyond mediocre prizes for an event that may not even fire with a $400 average buy in price. It's not even so much that the prizes are bad, but how much WotC doesn't seem to care about it.

If the prizes only went out by endless at Thu, 09/30/2010 - 13:33
endless's picture

If the prizes only went out to top 8, I'd agree. However, with prizes going down to the top 16, it kinda evens out the packs value being so low. If you're winning the event this kinda sucks, but if you're a more casual player getting in some events it's a great way to play a tourney, and still make a little bit of money. The classic community is fantastic other than one single player. So i'd encourage you to join up with a deck and have some fun.

For those that like to complain about the price. Take a look at the decklist from the last PE with u/w merfolk being about the same price as a top end standard deck. The difference being, that your tundra and force of will, won't be worth half as much next year when cards rotate.

"other than one single by Westane at Thu, 09/30/2010 - 13:45
Westane's picture

"other than one single player"

Hey I'm right here ya' know XD. Nah I'll admit I'm really just being bitter about the support for the format, because I'm a bitter person. It's for this reason my friends stopped talking to me about movies.

"Jeff have you seen the Dark Night? Man it was AWESOME! What'd you think?"
"Yeah.. I mean.. Well it was 'okay', I guess..."

It's great that Classic is by GainsBanding at Thu, 09/30/2010 - 17:38
GainsBanding's picture

It's great that Classic is alive again. People are innovating and the meta is opening up. And I believe we had a pro in our midst during this event. Lands was ridiculous... people were making fun of him for it, but I had no answers for a lot of his moves in our game and he made top 8 with it. And the Bob metadeck was great. I tried to come up with one all week and couldn't make it work. I'm looking forward to the next one - even though it's at 8am for me.

I'm ok with the prize support. In this event, only a few people walked away empty-handed. I sold two of my packs for 5 and kept the third to round out a draft set. Yeah, I understand that this sucks - if these had been M11 packs I could have gotten 8 tix for those two. But I came in 11th and still won packs. And it's the only Classic tournament all week. That to me is worth losing one ticket on. Soon ME4 will be out and this problem will be taken care of.

You know that sounds pretty by Paul Leicht at Thu, 09/30/2010 - 17:55
Paul Leicht's picture

You know that sounds pretty good. How many wins did you have to get that payout?

Usually a 3-2 run will get by Nrk at Thu, 09/30/2010 - 18:32
Nrk's picture

Usually a 3-2 run will get you into the top16 of this tournament - regardless of which order the wins come in. With all the early drops for those that don't do well and drop to join other events, and with the couple of folks who join just to fire each week, it is actually conceivable to get into the top 16 on a 1-4 record, although it takes a bit of luck.

One week I top 16'd after a record of loss-loss-bye-bye-win for the 5 swiss rounds.

So basically a pack per win? by Paul Leicht at Thu, 09/30/2010 - 18:36
Paul Leicht's picture

So basically a pack per win?

oh and loss loss bye bye win is 1-2 not 1-4...not sure how it would ever be possible to win anything with 1 win and 4 losses.

Well it works like this: 24 by Nrk at Thu, 09/30/2010 - 21:25
Nrk's picture

Well it works like this:
24 players start the tourney, top 16 get prizes

Tourney fires with 24 people, 4 drop immediately because they only joined to fire the event (this is not always the case, and probably will be less and less the case moving forward as more of these fire regularly). Now there are only 20 people left. 12 have a 1-0 record, and 8 have losses. As the tourney progresses, a few die-hard tourney grinders have bad days and post 0-2 records or 1-2 records, and drop. If, say, 2-3 people do this, and from what I have seen usually 3 people drop per week after their second loss because they have bigger and better things to do, then that means that 6-7 people have dropped from a 24 man tourney with top 16 getting prizes. This means that only one person that plays all 5 rounds will not get prizes now. Of the 8 folks that had losses in the first round, somebody generally gets a bye due to drops. Also, of those 8, 4 will by necessity win their next round, leaving at most 4 people with 2 losses that are still playing, then 2 of those HAVE to win in round 3 leaving only 2 folks left, who play each other, and one guy gets a win, the other guy gets a 0-3 record, then probably gets a bye next round. So with 2-3 you are a cinch for top 16, and as you can see it gets pretty convoluted but it is actually possible to top 16 on a 1-4 record. Or even all losses if enough people drop. One week, 9 players dropped from a 24 man tourney...

The week I got loss-loss-bye-bye-win I actually placed TENTH - I ALMOST MADE TOP 8, crazy huh?

dangerlinto's picture

That anybody joined to just to fire it off. Been firing on it's own recently but this week was Scars Pre-release in Paper and MOCs champs. To be honest, I didn't think it would fire at all, but 4 weeks in a row now.

I had been working on a Bob by Nrk at Thu, 09/30/2010 - 18:30
Nrk's picture

I had been working on a Bob metadeck all week, and it looked almost identical to Xkorpio's, except that it didn't have red and didn't run Lavamancer. That helped a lot, I think. I wasn't too impressed with my build so I incorporated the Yixlid Jailer hate into the existing merfolk shell that had worked the previous week. Xkorpio's build was a much better take on the same deck, my hat is off to him for it. It certainly owned my merfolk.